The Saints hosted a pretty good Fairmont Cardinals team last Friday night but came out on the short end of a 85-79 score.
The game had been delayed a day because of the blizzard that passed south of us, but the only ‘inclement weather’ inside the St. James Gym on Friday night was that the Cardinals rained down too many three point shots down the stretch when they needed them to keep the Saints at bay.
Fairmont came into the game with a 4-2 won/loss record, but they were ranked has high as fifth in 2A at the start of the season, so the Saints were in for a game.
SJA was up for it. The teams traded buckets in the early part of the first half, with Fairmont usually holding narrow leads until Walker Froehling put the Saints ahead for the first time with two pointer in the laine and the Saints took a 13-12 lead.
SJA pushed it out to a 17 to 12 lead at the 11:16 mark of the first half. From that point on the Saints gave up their first half lead.
Fairmont was ahead at 23-21 with eight to go and went on a 9-2 run to hold a 31 to 23 lead. Fairmont was set to go into the locker room with a comfortable lead as they led 41-30 with less than two minutes to go in the half.
But the Saints bombed away as first Joe Nelson and then Froehling hit three pointers giving SJA a 6-0 run to close out the half. The Saints trailed 41-36 as the teams walked off the floor.
Froehling scored the first five points for the Saints in the second half as SJA went on a 10-4 run to take a 46-45 lead at the 14:50 mark of the half. The junior first scored a three and then a deuce down low.
The game was tight over the next ten minutes.
SJA was tied with Fairmont at 55 at 11 minutes when Nelson drove in for a layup. The basket was good, but he was called for charging so the two pointer was waved off.
The Saints took a lead at 65-63 at just under seven minutes in the game. Fairmont got the lead for good at 72-69 on a Cardinals three ball with about 4:40 left in the game.
As the center, Sam Carlson usually plays closer to the basket, but as the Saints football quarterback and pitcher in baseball, you have to figure he can chuck it from downtown. That’s what he did as with four minutes to go he hit a trey from the corner. That put the Saints down 74-72. Fairmont answered with a three.
Page 2 of 2 - As the game wound down with Fairmont clinging to a lead, the Saints had to start fouling to get the ball back. It was kind of a weird bad break as SJA hadn’t made a lot of second half fouls when they started fouling.
The Saints had to commit five fouls over a time of approximately a half minute to put Fairmont on the line shooting a one and one.
The strategy worked, as Fairmont missed the front end, the Saints got the ball back, motored down the court and Zach Brandts was fouled. He sank two with 1:19 to go and the Saints trailed by three 81-78.
Pressure D got the ball back as Fairmont turned it over. Nelson missed an open three for the tie with a half minute to go. Brandts mad the last point for the Saints on a free throw and Fairmont made free throws down the stretch to finish off the scoring.
Head Coach Steve Walker liked the scoring balance, “We had good balance offensively. We had four players in double figures.” The Head Coach also like the way the Saints took care of the ball, “We only had seven turnovers.”
Froehling was the top scorer for St. James Area with 29. Brandts had 21, Nelson had 14, Ryan Menssen had 10 and Carlson had 5. All the scoring was from the starters. There was no bench scoring.
Brandts had a double double with ten rebounds. As a team the Saints shot well. They hit 50 percent from behind the arc, 45 percent over all and hit 80 percent of their free throws.
Fairmont had a big edge in rebounding, as the Cardinals had 40 and the Saints 25.
Overall all Coach Walker said, “I thought we played very well. If we play with that energy every game we will be rewarded with some wins. Fairmont is a solid team and we were there with a shot to win it.”
The boys and girls basketball Saints host a tournament this Thursday and Friday at St. James Gym. The boys game gets underway at 6 pm on Thursday with the girls team starting play at 2:30 pm on Thursday.